One of the first things that you spot in a kitchen is cooking oil. It is like a lifeline, as you use it to prepare multiple dishes. It is used quite frequently in a household, and many may end up reheating or reusing cooking oil just to reduce wastage. Even though you try to use less oil in your dishes, there are times when you have to pour in much more oil than you usually do. Think of deep fried fish or French fries, and you’ll know why you need a lot of cooking oil. Since a lot of oil remains in the pan, you cover it up and then reheat it to prepare your next meal. But to reuse cooking oil may not be the healthiest practice.
It’s not just at homes, but also hotels, restaurants, roadside eateries or food stalls that may engage in reusing cooking oil.
Health Shots checked with Manpreet Kaur Paul, Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Faridabad, to know how the practice of reusing cooking oil is detrimental for health.
Here’s how reusing cooking oil affects health
1. Reusing cooking oil increases risk of neurodegenerative diseases
When oil is reused for cooking, a high concentration of toxic chemicals such as aldehydes is released. They have been associated with many health conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, says Paul. Another toxic substance, HNE (4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal), is released when you reuse cooking oil. It is responsible for altering the functioning of DNA and proteins in our body.
2. Effects of reused cooking oil on heart
The bhujias and pakodas that are available in market look so tempting. But Paul suggests not to eat them as most are cooked in Vanaspati so that they can be preserved for a longer duration. Once we eat them, we also consume trans fats. Using the same oil repeatedly increases the proportion of trans fats, leading to cardiovascular diseases. The food cooked in reheated oil increases the LDL levels (bad cholesterol) in the body which leads to increased risk of getting a stroke or chest pain.
3. Reusing cooking oil harms the liver
All our body parts are important, and so is the liver. It plays a major role in metabolism and has many functions like storage of glycogen, synthesis of plasma protein and detoxification of drugs. Consumption of reused cooking oil has harmful effects on the body as it increases the level of enzymes in the blood which is indicative of liver damage.
4. Reusing cooking oil reduces immunity
Preparing food by using the same cooking oil can also increase free radicals in the body, which in turn cause inflammation. High inflammation in the body can reduce your immunity and make you more susceptible to infections. If you are looking for immunity boosting foods, begin by not consuming reused cooking oil.
5. Reused cooking oil affects the skin
The free radicals produced by leftover oil affects the skin by speeding up the ageing process. When you often eat deep fried foods then the healing of your skin gets delayed.
When to discard cooking oil?
* Oil darkens by repetitive usage and food molecules burn when subjected to prolonged heat.
* The more you use the cooking oil, the more slowly it will pour as a change in its viscosity.
* If the oil has turned rancid or “off” smelling, it should be discarded.
Tips to reduce usage of reheated cooking oil
1. Prefer home-cooked food
Cooking food at home is one of the healthiest ways of enjoying food. Cooking food at home empowers you to decide what ingredients you want in your meal. Home-cooked food can provide you the perfect balanced diet you need for good health and body. Make sure that you are not using the already used cooking oil, reminds Paul.
2. Always cook fresh in consumable quantities
This is an effective and easy way to reduce excess cooking oil. Calculate the amount of food you need for a meal in order to avoid food wastage. Cook fresh food as frequently as possible. Cooking food in small proportions can also help you practice portion control.
3. Carry home-cooked food while going out
There are many times when you simply cannot avoid eating out. Meal prepping can help you in such situations. Carry your food along with you. This will help you stay away from foods that are most likely cooked in reheated oil.